It is that time of year when people go to great lengths to be with family members for the holidays.
I mean literally. Some travel thousands of miles every year, some not by choice, to celebrate.
I say not by choice and mean mostly the kids who are shipped back and forth for the holidays. Typically they may be happy for one way of the trip, be it there or return, one way is not by choice. I suppose how comfortable they are spending so much of their time in the airport during their holiday break depends on how seasoned of travelers they are. My kids have almost always had a couple days extra off of school on either end of the break so that makes it a little better too.
Other unwilling travelers may be those going to not their families home, either the one they married into and maybe just aren’t comfortable enough yet, or to a friends who offered because they had nowhere to go. There could be many reasons for the unwilling part. Some people just hate to travel.. But for their families, will do it.
I have spent quite a bit of time in airports, during the holidays and otherwise, and I have come to really like to go there as long as it is not the busiest days and we have not cut our time off to the point of having to run through the airport to catch a plane. More than once that has happened, and it isn’t fun.
In all the flights taken by the whole lot of us involved in the back and forth and spending time at airports, as far I can remember there have been only 2 missed flights that were not necessarily my fault - although I admit, I did not arrive at the airport the recommended 14 hours early to ensure they would get signed forms in triplicate, have time to pee in a cup, and get chips implanted in case they went to the bathroom on the plane without telling the flight attendant. I take it back, totally my fault.
Except that one time that my then 12 yo (now 17) was flying and I had my 3 yo and some month old in tow and they stopped my three year old for “the list” . You know that one that they put suspicious people on. She didn’t get on it until they made her an escort pass to go with me to walk her brother to the plane, and it was a busy day, and yes we were running a little late. Not by normal get through security standards but by one of us is on the list and trying to reason with the TSA agents.
Please notice I refrained from using any derogatory language. If I could get a few good marks by my name for next time it would be great. What made me think of that fun day was going through security before Thanksgiving to retrieve my 12 yo and I forgot to take the perfume out of my bag. A big bottle from Bath and Body Works. I remembered it about the same time as the dinger went off and they called for a bag check on 5. I told the guy “hey its my perfume, I totally forgot and I am not flying.”
They had to do the routine rummage through my bag thing.. and then when I asked if I could come back and pick it up on the way out, they told me no. My choices were, arrange for an escort back to security and fill out 15 forms and pee in a cup and get a chip implanted.. or to leave now, go put it in my car and come back in and wait another 30 hours to get through the line, by which time Thanksgiving would be over and my 12 yo an emaciated corpse in the terminal waiting for his mother. hmmmm gee ..
What are my options again?
Well the outcome to the first situation was I had a breakdown in the security line which once in was like herding cattle with big plexiglass walls that seemed to get narrower. We were the cattle not the herders, and I tried to explain to the gentleman that we were not flying, that my then 12 yo was going to miss his flight and she was only three and while I realised three year olds are indeed capable of terrorist like activities when left to their own devices FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY HE CAN NOT MISS THIS PLANE!
It might have been my loss of my control that caused further delay I don’t know, but needless to say they got us through and we ran..not sauntered at a fast pace, we ran down the terminal to the gate just as the flight attendant looked right at us and….closed the door. Yep, making direct eye contact with me, just click ohhhh so sorry.
This recent pass, I chose to forfeit my perfume in favor of saving my son from emaciation.
I have spent a lot of time not seeing what was going on around me, and a lot of time people watching during a delay or because oh gasp, we were early. Ok not so much time from that perspective, but I have had my fair share of down time too. It isn’t all about getting kids where they need to go. I fly too. Sometimes.
I like to watch people. I wonder where they came from, where they are going, are they happy, who they are and what they do for a living. Sometimes I name them, mostly older people though. They are fun. Older couples are always the best.
People at the airport are often not at their best. Some are going on vacation and could care less about any hold up or delay, or if say its a honeymoon. You can always tell those couples. All goo eyed and huh over each other.
The thing about older couples is they are either overly polite to each other, or they are a comedy routine unfolding before your very eyes as they revert to normal daily practice of handling things, when things go awry. I wonder if they have grandchildren who appreciate their humor, and the fact they have grandparents who will fly to see them.
I look at the young college kids seemingly unfazed by anything at all because they have earphones in and wonder how they function really. I have tried that and become extremely paranoid someone is sneaking up behind me or that I will get run over by those luggage people.
Where are they going ? Is it home or another friends or back to school. Did they have a happy childhood, what is their favorite food and do they love their mothers?
When I see members of the armed forces in their BDU or Class A uniforms I immediately remember how I felt, walking through an airport with a uniform on. When I was headed to my first assignment and wanted nothing more than to break down and cry I was so scared, the uniform kept me together because I remembered it would make an impression. And when a gentleman thanked me for my service, I was almost…embarrassed to say thank you because inside I was saying, I haven’t done anything and I don’t know what I am doing now.
Where are these new ones going? Do they have wives, husbands, gf / bf kids, parents waiting for them? Do they get to go home for the holidays?
Here comes a couple that have been together awhile but aren’t elderly, middle aged I say although my age-o-meter is off a little because I forget I am middle aged now. Maybe my parents age? They’re arguing but not in a mean way, more of a teasing playful way, and I create a life for them in my head that is full of family and fun and lots of kids waiting for them and they are well loved.
The moms (dads too) who are flying by themselves with one (or more ) toddlers under one, I automatically just ache for. I don’t care how together you are as a parent or how capable you are, flying alone with kids, little kids, will demoralize anyone for a few minutes. It is humbling and humanizing in a way you will never know if you don’t do it. It will make you think twice about bitching about kids crying and poop diapers and blaming it all on the poor parents. Or parent in this case. I have not yet met a parent doing this that is not concerned for the welfare of other passengers.
Except that one lady who would do nothing to stop her brat from kicking the back of my chair. That pisses me off but still sometimes falls into the let it go area, if you have any empathy at all.
There is that little boy getting onto the plane by himself. If he is alone than he has to be a t least 12, he looks a little older and he doesn’t seem too nervous. His eye are red, he has been crying I will bet. Lots of kids with red rimmed eyes getting on planes around the holidays.
I don’t know why I call him a little boy, except my boy is the same way and he will always be my little boy so… there is that. I wonder if they will find each other on the plane. These kids always do you know? The number of new best friends met on a 3 to 5 hour flight is amazing.
As soon as I say goodbye again to my son, I sit and turn my attention from the people to the airplanes. Probably a defense mechanism to keep from feeling what I am feeling at the fact he is going.
There is an ebb and flow to the airport, it can not, no matter what one might believe, sustain the hustle and bustle that the harried traveler usually witnesses. Once the planes are boarded waiting for clearance there is a calm, almost deserted feel that takes over the terminal. True story.
I stay out of habit, waiting for the plane to back out of the gate, and get in the air, even though I am no longer required to, chuckling inside as I wait thinking about all the planes I have had to watch take off which I could not wait to get out of the airport and on to the next thing. I understand the reason they make the parents sit until the plane is off the ground and would rather take the few minutes to have the peace of mind and know by babies were safely hurtling through the air at a high rate of speed ….but once they reach the responsible age of 12 they are considered unaccompanied unaccompanied minors and are expected to know how to handle themselves, and what to do if the plane say, never takes off, and they get put up in a hotel overnight.
Twelve is a good age for that. They get to come in only two hours early, no more implants and forms in triplicate, and no more fees. The only thing they still get that I can see is a parent to walk them to the plane and somehow I am willing to bet its is a total CYA move on the part of the airlines, but whatever, here I am and in no hurry to go anywhere fast.
The planes come and the planes go, synched to the cycles of our life and the only tenuous thread that links us to our families and loved ones miles away. I wonder if I just got onto an airplane where would I go? Besides the obvious of jail for trying to get on an airplane without a ticket, I mean there is that to consider.
All these people are coming and going to places I can only imagine and I don’t have any place to be or any need to go. I am fine just sitting here watching airplanes.
- Wednesday Words of Wisdom: A Toddler, an Airplane and a Dirty Diaper (chatonsworld.blogspot.com)